Tucked in the idyllic mountains of southern Germany you can find perhaps the most majestic and splendorous of castles looking out over the pastures and valleys below. The whole area is a scene ripped from storybooks full of faeries and mystic forests. Neuschwanstein Castle is simply magical.
We stayed in the nearby town of Fussen, which is great in its own right and hopefully my future home, but there are two smaller villages a little closer that you could stay at as well: Schwangau and Hohenschwangau. Technically the castle is in the village of Schwangau but it is very easy to get to from any of the three towns. We decided to hike from Fussen which was a fantastic decision since the mountains are amazing. There are dozens of well-marked trails so you can’t really get lost and the scenery is truly breathtaking. For our return journey we took a bus from Schwangau to Fussen; the bus runs back and forth all day.
Walking up to and around the castle is completely free. You can even enter the courtyards for free. The only thing you have to pay for is to go inside but be prepared for a long wait. We had heard that the inside isn’t that great because it actually wasn’t really finished inside so we decided to save a bit of money and just enjoyed the beautiful exterior. If you want to see a stunning interior we heard you should go to the castle in the next village over – Hohenschwangau.
Neuschwanstein was built by King Ludwig II who was very reclusive and loathed affairs of state. He was wanting to build a sanctuary of sorts but also a symbol. He wanted to build a castle that exemplified the idea of the ‘typical’ grand and powerful medieval castle. What is a bit ironic and funny is that there was already a castle on the grounds. This castle was actually from the middle ages and was an immensely important castle for the area. However the old castle wasn’t in the best of shape. King Ludwig tore it down and began the construction of Neuschwanstein. Sadly, Ludwig only got to spend 11 nights in his new marvel before he was ousted by his parliament. Construction costs had ballooned quickly as Ludwig constantly expanded the project. Ludwig exhausted his own funds and began drawing huge lines of credit. The Bavarian parliament had a legitimate fear that Ludwig’s castle would bankrupt the country and so stepped in and removed him from power on June 11, 1886. Two days later he died under mysterious circumstances. Soon after Ludwig’s death the castle was opened for visiting to cover the construction debts.
As far as wonders go in Civ Neuschwanstein was introduced in the Gods & Kings expansion and is one that I always strive to build. First it gives a good happiness, culture and gold bonus for its own city and counts as a castle. Second it gives a similar bonus to all cities with castles that you have! I typically try to conquer many other cities and install puppets. Puppet cities usually end up building castles as part of their autonomous programming so Neuschwanstein becomes a huge bonus once it gets completed.
Neuschwanstein was amazing to see, but you can’t just look at the castle. You have to also turn around and look out over the valley. You need to walk on the forest trails and breathe in the mountain air. The Bavarian landscape has taken a special place in my heart and I long to return there above all other places I have been.